Montreal’s Mathieu Giroux wins silver medal at short track speed skating junior worlds

Mathieu Giroux of Montreal is off to a much better start than a year ago at the world junior short track speed skating championships following a silver medal performance Friday in the men’s 1,500 metres in which all the medallists went under the world record.

Two-time defending overall champion Ho-Suk Lee of South Korea won the gold medal clocking what is now the world junior record at 2:13.340. Giroux followed in 2:13.945 and Yoon-Gy Kwak of South Korea third in 2:13.977. The previous world mark was 2:16.244 set by South Korean Hyon-Kon Kim in 2003.

Two years ago, Giroux won a bronze in the 1,500 and placed fifth overall at the world juniors but last year he crashed in the 1,500 quarterfinals.

"It was crucial this year that I get the competition off to a good start," said Giroux, 18. "With this result I’ll now have favourable draws for the rest of the competition. My goal here is to get a top-three placing overall. I’ve gained a lot of experience at both the past world juniors and at the Canadian trials."

Guillaume Bastille of Longueuil, Que., was eliminated in the semifinals and ranked ninth and Francois Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., reached the quarterfinals for 19th.

In the women’s 1,500, Sun-Yoo Park led South Korea to a medal sweep clocking 2:25.433. Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., was in the medal hunt the whole race and took fourth in 2:25.968.

"I had a tough semifinal and a tough final so this is a good start for me," said Roberge, who competed at two World Cups earlier this season. "The Koreans certainly set up strategy to get the three medals. I had second spot at one point in the race but they were able to block me out."

Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa was eliminated in the semis for 10th spot and Jessica Gregg of Edmonton was ousted in the quarterfinals and ranked 37th.

Gregg, Blondin and Roberge won their opening relay heat to advance to the semis while the men also advanced finishing second in their heat with Hamelin, Giroux and Bastille.

Competition continues through to Sunday.